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The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Col du Glandon

Written by Robyn Oppenheimer on 21st March, 2019

This breathtaking climb snakes its way through Alpine meadows, up and over reservoirs and past crystal blue water lakes.

The Location

This high mountain pass is located in the Dauphine Alps in the Savoie region of France.  It’s part of the famous La Marmotte sportive and links Bourg d’Oissans with La Chambre on the other side of the Glandon and Croix de Fer.

Cycling the Col du Glandon, The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Col du Glandon

Why Col du Glandon

This epic and challenging climb is spectacular. You will ride high into the French mountains with blissful green meadows and cows for company. The higher you get, the quieter it becomes before you ride past the streams and lakes at the top of the climb. For an epic day you can combine this with a loop including Croix de Fer, ride onwards to the Telegraphe and Galibier, or simply turn back on yourself and ride this together with the mighty Alpe d’Huez.  If you attempt the Marmotte route, you will clock up over 5,000 metres in 174km of road! The epic combinations of climbs in this area are endless.

The Stats

The Col du Glandon comprises a 27km ride with an average gradient, not to be underestimated, of 4.8%. Many who ride the Marmotte will make the mistake of attacking the initial slopes of the Glandon at a speed that is too fast and then struggle later on. Remembering to pace yourself is key, as the gradient increases to 7-10% for 6km through dense trees after you pass Allemond.  Combined with the increase in gradient, you will contend with the wind as it channels down from the mountain tops. A good tip is to keep checking your power meter or heart rate monitor to ensure you aren’t exerting yourself too much in the early stages.  There is a fast descent as you head to the River d’Allemont, followed by a steep climb on the other side.   There are a few descents like this dotted about which will provide some respite for your weary legs.

Cycling the Col du Glandon, The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Col du Glandon

The views you will see during the ascent are spectacular, especially as you ride past the stunning crystal blue waters of Lac de Grand Maison, tackling a couple of challenging hairpins before summiting.  However, don’t let the beauty of the surroundings distract you during the descent off the Glandon, which is technical and fast so that for safety reasons, it’s neutralised during the actual Marmotte.

Off the Bike

There is a café stop at around 10km up at Le Rivier d’Allemont.  This is the last water stop before the top of Glandon so if you are continuing onwards, don’t forget to fill up there.  In the village of Allemond there is also a boulangerie for a pain au chocolat to keep you going.

If you are looking for somewhere to sit down and eat, try the Chalet du Glandon in Saint-Colomban-des-Villards, at the intersection of Col Du Glandon and Col de la Croix.  It is popular with cycling groups – especially during the summer months when you can sit on the terrace shaded by umbrellas.  Alternatively there is a little kiosk at the top of the Glandon.  If you are heading to the Croix de Fer summit after the Glandon, it is only 3km to the iron cross.

Lac de Grand Maison on the top of the Col du Glandon

If you have been inspired to cycle the Col du Glandon, why not give our cycling specialists a call? Our specialists can help you build your perfect cycling holiday.  Whether you want to join a training camp, use an electric bike, or ride our GPX routes independently, we are able to tailor your trip to you.